Jamise L. Dames

Jamise L. Dames

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
April 5, 2004

Q. Who is Jamise L. Dames?

A. Good question. I'm many things, or as Chaka Khan so rightfully and beautifully explained for many of us, "I'm Every Woman." In my private life I'm a mother, wife, daughter, student, etc. I'm a regular person who does regular things, no different than the person standing next to you in a coffee shop. I pray, love my children beyond reason, understand that I'm a professional student of life's never-ending lessons, and appreciate every day that I'm given. I'm not too outgoing and can do without crowds. I love peace and serenity, and value true friendships. Jamise L. Dames the writer is a bit different. It's as if when I switch hats I switch personalities. I become outgoing and love crowds. Crowds are wonderful for authors. However, writing, although I love it and would do it even if no one read my work, is my job and something that I take very serious. I try to better not only my work, but the craft each time I attempt something new. Although it's my gift and passion, it's also my responsibility to be respectful to my readers, to give them something to look forward to.

Q. What inspired you to write the novel MOMMA'S BABY DADDY'S MAYBE?

A. Ever since I was a little girl I was intrigued with the title. It seemed as if I'd heard the saying 2 million times, and as a child I didn't know what it meant, but it was on my "To Understand List"; the zillion things that my mother had assured me I'd understand when I was old enough. Once known, I was drawn in. I'd thought, It couldn't be possible that all women in that situation were whores simply because they were unsure about the paternity of their child. Sure, it's not being a hundred percent responsible, or something that a respectable woman would plan. But what if; As a woman I know about biology, female issues, cycles, etc. I used to be pre-med in undergrad so I also know that a woman doesn't have to sleep with two men in the same week or month for such a thing to happen. The main premise of the book evolved from such thoughts and I just added on along the way, playing the what-if game from beginning to end.

Q. How did you come about the title?

A. It was an _expression that I'd heard my grandmother use several times when I was a child.

Q. Why did you choose the title around Kennedy's situation rather than Simone's or Derrick's?

A. Although it seemed as if the title was solely addressing Kennedy's situation, it wasn't. In fact, it applied to all three siblings' lives. The title also reflected Nigel's questioning his paternity of the child Simone was carrying. Derrick not being allowed to see his children whenever he wanted highlighted the power an unethical mother can have over the father of her child/children. In Derrick's case, his children were Momma's Babies all the time, but only his when she allowed him to parent. Therefore, on Monday maybe they belonged to him and on Tuesday'; maybe not.

Q. Whose situation was the most interesting to write about Simone/Nigel/Kaisha or Kennedy/Jared/Michael or Derrick/Courtney/Michael?

A. To me they were all equally interesting to write because although their stories intertwined they were different in certain respects. However, I must admit, Simone's was more challenging. There were times when she was weak and I, as a woman, wanted her to be stronger, needed her to be smarter, wanted to yell out to her, "Run, girl. Run!" as if I were in a movie theatre watching her on the screen. But I couldn't. I had to keep her true to character whether I agreed with her situation or not. As a writer I couldn't give her my voice or beliefs because it was her story, not mine.

Q. How did you come about Rich and Nigel's characters?

A. Rich was easy. Because hustlers and players like him come three dozen for a dime in any city or town, he wasn't one who was hard to paint. His formula was simple; one part "dog" + two parts hustler- the stereotypical drug dealer, and a dash of smarts. He had to have some intelligence to extort for as long as he did.

Nigel was a compilation. Before writing the Nigel/Simone story I had to do some heavy research. Because I've never been in an abusive relationship, and am nothing like Simone, I had to talk to women who’d walked the same horrible path that Simone had. Survivors. After interviewing several women in abuse shelters I compiled a list of the abusive traits and patterns that their abusers possessed and, of course, added other behaviors.

Q. Will there be a sequel to MOMMA'S BABY DADDY'S MAYBE?

A. No, I don't think so for two reasons. One, I'm not a sequel writer. Two, I don't believe it's always conducive to the work. Sometimes a story will lose that "special" something in a sequel, or the second can't live up to the first. I don't want to disappoint my readership and I don't want them to grow tired of the characters. I prefer to give them something fresh to look forward to with each story that I write. They deserve something new just as I do. Usually I'm tired of the characters after all the drafts that are required to make a novel a good book.

Q. Are you currently working on another novel?

A. (Laughing) I'm always working on another novel, I can't help it. I constantly have characters in my head who simply refuse to go away until I've written their story. That said, I've finished my third book, and am simultaneously writing my fourth and fifth ones, and am outlining my sixth and seventh. My second novel PUSHING UP DAISIES will be released by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster later this year.

Q. What type of atmosphere do you require to write?

A. Well, I can write anywhere and I've written everywhere. I've been known to use eyeliner, my kids crayons, and whatever I can get my hands on if I'm inspired and not in front of my computer and/or don't have the proper writing materials. However, I prefer to write in a semi-quiet environment, preferably my office, which, day or night, is always aglow with beeswax candlelight and filled with music. I love serene environments because they promote and provide almost effortless thought for me.

Q. What message would you like readers to receive from reading MOMMA'S BABY DADDYS MAYBE?

A. Despite the conflict and the drama, Momma's Baby is about family and love. Everyone needs someone, familial ties are important. As humans, I think it's natural for us to want acceptance, trust, and unconditional love "things that are usually shared amongst relatives, things that are easy to lose site of, and/or are taken for granted until they are no more. Appreciate love, value relationships, and love yourself unconditionally that's what I want my readers to take away from the book.